We are seeing an undeclared emergency: Siddaramaiah

Leader of the Opposition Siddaramaiah speaking at the Legislative Assembly session in Bengaluru on Tuesday.

Leader of the Opposition Siddaramaiah speaking at the Legislative Assembly session in Bengaluru on Tuesday.   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

The Congress on Tuesday said the law and order situation in the State resembled an “undeclared emergency”. Its legislators walked out of the Legislative Assembly after Speaker Vishweshwara Hegde Kageri deferred a detailed discussion on the issue till Wednesday.

As soon as members assembled in the House, Leader of the Opposition Siddaramaiah made a preliminary submission to convince the chair to take up the issue of “bad law and order situation” in the State in the wake of anti-Citizenship (Amendment) Act protests. The adjournment motion was tabled in the backdrop of the killing of two men in police firing during anti-CAA protests in Mangaluru and the filing of sedition cases against a school student and her mother in Bidar.

The Congress leader said the police, acting on behalf of the government, had slapped sedition charges against protesters and those expressing dissent over CAA and the National Register of Citizens. “No court or Parliament has the power to take away citizens’ right to protest,” he said.

Claiming that the law and order situation in the State had broken down completely, he blamed the police for imposing Section 144 in Mangaluru and other parts of the State for curtailing freedom of expression and the right to protest.

An argument ensued when Home Minister Basavaraj Bommai questioned Mr. Siddaramaiah’s allegations that the government had stifled freedom of expression. Mr. Bommai accused the Congress of “destroying democracy” and stifling free speech when the Prime Minister Indira Gandhi declared Emergency in June 1975. The Congress government under Indira Gandhi even blacked out the press and curtained fundamental rights, he said.

Countering Mr. Bommai, Mr. Siddaramaiah said that party workers, students, women and scholars have been opposing CAA, but the ruling BJP was considering them anti-national. While Indira Gandhi declared Emergency, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has imposed an “undeclared emergency”, he said.

Meanwhile, Ministers C.T. Ravi and K.S. Eshwarappa started attacking the Congress leader. Mr. Eshwarappa asked, “Are you people [Congress] talking about the Constitution and stifling dissent? Who sent L.K. Advani, A.B. Vajpayee and Jayaprakash Narayan to jail? What anti-national activities did they do? You are the ones who destroyed the Constitution.”

Speaker’s stand

As the war of words escalated, Mr. Kageri said the House was wasting time by taking up issues under Rules 60 and 69, much to the dislike of the people of the State. This irked the Opposition leaders, who asked the Speaker to expunge the words “the House is wasting time”. The Speaker said he would examine it later.

Mr. Kageri, who saw no merit in the matter for discussion under adjournment motion, asked the Congress to discuss the issue in detail under Rule 69 on Wednesday. He then allowed ruling party member A.S. Nadahalli to speak on the motion of thanks to the Governor’s address.

When Mr. Siddaramaiah persisted with the demand for further discussion, Chief Minister B.S. Yediyurappa shouted at the Congress leader, telling him he could not “dictate terms to the Speaker”. The Congress leaders subsequently walked out of the Assembly.

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Printable version | Mar 28, 2020 3:18:38 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/karnataka/we-are-seeing-an-undeclared-emergency-siddaramaiah/article30854590.ece

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